Alert for all salted caramel fans! You need to make this easiest nougatine recipe. Made simply with salted butter, sugar and toasted nuts, it makes the perfect topping on French chocolate desserts and patisserie.
Not too Brittle, Not too Soft
While I love making batches of my warmed salted caramel sauce to pour on crêpes, cakes, ice cream, meringues and all sorts of creamy and apple desserts, there comes a time when we need a real crunch, something to bite our teeth into, without breaking them!
Le Crunch from this easiest nougatine recipe gives desserts like chocolate tartlets and rice pudding that extra special texture that can take it to another level, and it takes no time to prepare. It’s not hard and brittly and not soft, either. Just deliciously in between.
Parisian Inspiration from the French King of Riz au Lait Rice Pudding
I say rice pudding, as a respectful nod goes to Stéphane Jégo, chef at the popular Parisian restaurant, l’Ami Jean in the 7th (rue Malar). While his dishes are all fabulous, he’s particularly renowned for his addictively creamy rice pudding. It’s the kind of dessert many people shy away from after a big meal. “I can’t go for rice pudding – that will be far too much after all I’ve eaten.”
Think again. It comes in a sharing bowl with a separate pot of salted caramel cream and a salted nougatine like this one with added peanuts. Last time we couldn’t finish it, Antoine asked for a doggy bag and we were still enjoying it the next day!
An Easy Method to Make Caramel
What I love about this nougatine is how easy (in case you didn’t hear me say it yet) and quick it is: the caramel is made by heating the BUTTER FIRST WITH THE SUGAR directly and stirring. It’s quick too. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly and also toast the nuts lightly beforehand to bring out the flavours.
Caramel Decoration for French Pastries
The crunch came when I made some double chocolate tarts from my book, Teatime in Paris. If you don’t have the book, then try this sample recipe of these tartlets (along with a review of the book) at Farmersgirl Kitchen.
Et voilà! Plonk a bit of this French nougatine on top of chocolate or pistachio tartlets and you’ll find good reason to use it on many other desserts. Except if you have daughters like mine, who help themselves to the addictive nougatine from its jar and just nibble on it on its own. You may just find one batch isn’t quite enough …
How Long Does Nougatine Keep?
The good news is that this nougatine can keep in a sealed jar in a cool, dry place for at least a month.
It’s like money in the bank when friends come around unexpectedly and you need to decorate a simple dessert at the last minute and take it to the new heights!
Easiest Nougatine Recipe
- 100 g (4oz) slivered almonds
- 50 g (2oz) pistachios (unsalted)
- 50 g (2oz) hazelnuts
- 100 g (4oz) walnuts
- 50 g (2oz) butter salted (if not add 1/2 tsp fleur de sel)
- 175 g (6oz) sugar
- Place all nuts in a single layer on top of a non-stick baking sheet and lightly toast them under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Keep your eye on them and don't move away from the grill, as this happens quickly and you do NOT want them to burn (any burning will make the nuts bitter). Toasting them lightly brings out their wonderful flavour. When toasted, set them aside to cool.
- In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat. As soon as it's melted, add the sugar.Using a wooden spoon, stir around the sugar and butter, continuing to stir until the mixture starts to form a liquid and a caramel forms. As soon as this happens and it's golden (not brown), add all the nuts.
- Stir around the nuts until they're all well covered and sticky in the caramel.
- Turn out immediately on to patisserie mat (Silpat) or directly on to a clean, marble surface.
- Spread it out quickly and as evenly as you can in a layer (this will make it easier to break with your fingers later).
- Leave to cool on the counter for about 15 minutes or until the caramel hardens.When cool, break into pieces and get deliciously decorating!